Try More Stuff Than the Other Guy

Here’s Tom Peters on one of my favorite topics (randomness) from the new book The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives:

"If I had said ‘yes’ to all the projects I turned down and ‘no’ to all the ones I took, it would have worked out about the same."—David Picker, movie studio exec

"Mathematical analysis of firings in all major sports has shown that those firings had, on average, no effect on team performance."

And his sum-up:

NB2: If Randomness Rules then your only defense is the so-called "law of large numbers"—that is, success follows from tryin’ enough stuff so that the odds of doin’ something right tilt your way; in my speeches I declare that the only thing I’ve truly learned "for sure" in the last 40 years is "Try more stuff than the other guy"—there is no poetic license here, I mean it.

3 comments on “Try More Stuff Than the Other Guy
  • Oh yeah.

    A lot of people will hate this idea, but it’s really important: be as active as possible, but stop trying to control things. Control absorbs energy you could be using to do more stuff.

    There’s got to be a correlation between people who do a lot and people who are good at processing decisions towards positive outcomes though… I think…?

  • Yes. It’s the driftwood that reaches the shore.

    The multitude of attempts gravitate us towards *the most likely* since arguably almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected. The fundamental premise behind recognition of randomness is humility – admission of the fact that it is impossible to be in possession of complete information necessary for rational decision making. In that, it offers a stunning rebuttal to predictive mathematical models used to forecast the future –as well as an attack on the idea of applying naive and simplified statistical models in complex domains.

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